The 27-year-old announced the decision of the British authorities on Twitter: “After several hearings over the past four months, the Home Office has informed me that my asylum application has been approved,” wrote Nathan Law.
The former opposition MP fled to London from the controversial Chinese security law in early July 2020. “The fact that I am being searched under the national security law shows that I am facing severe political persecution and that I am unlikely to be able to return to Hong Kong without risk,” said Law. He hoped his case would help the British authorities “understand the complicated situation in Hong Kong”.
Worrying about fellow campaigners
Law expressed concern that other Hong Kong activists who fled to the UK might not be granted the same status as him because they received less media attention or did not gather enough evidence to support their asylum claim. 39 men and eight women, including civil rights activist Joshua Wong, are currently on trial in Hong Kong on charges of conspiracy to overthrow.
Three faces of the democracy movement in Hong Kong: Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow (archive image from January 2018)
As the youngest MP in the history of the former British Crown Colony, Law was elected to the Hong Kong Parliament in 2016. However, he lost his seat a year later after a court ruled that he had failed to sincerely take his oath of office. He was sentenced to eight months in prison for participating in the 2014 student umbrella movement. He is being wanted in Hong Kong for participating in the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
Political and economic consequences
The investigations against Law and other pro-democratic activists are based on the so-called security law, which has severely restricted civil rights in the autonomously governed special administrative region of China since last year. It is directed against activities that Beijing sees as subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspiratorial. The controversial law has been criticized by the UK and other Western countries as a breach of the Joint Declaration for the Return of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
Asylum for Law is likely to exacerbate tensions between London and Beijing as Britain opened its doors to potentially more than five million Hong Kong residents in the wake of controversial security laws. The British government expects more than 300,000 emigrants from Hong Kong in the next five years. Bank of America estimates that as early as this year, $ 36 billion in capital could flow out of Hong Kong.
rb / mak (AFP, dpa, Reuters)